First one, then two, then three, and before I knew it there were people all around the car, joining in.  I slid back behind the wheel and with "people-power" rather than "horsepower," I slowly rolled toward the grandstands.

Spectators help team mechanics push Tony to the finish line

     But as I came through the Indianapolis Corner for the last time, the engine began to misfire badly, then between Arnage and White House, it gave up the ghost entirely.  We had come this far only to break down on the cool-off-lap!

     When I looked over at the battery and saw that the terminals were smoldering I knew this was the end of my ride. There was nothing left to do but to climb out of the car and push it the remaining mile or so to the pits.  Seeing my plight, several spectators on the side of the track jumped the retaining fences and began to help me.

Ear plugs still in place, Tony clutches the Moet

     Chuck suddenly appeared from out of the crowd, carrying a huge bottle of champagne, and then an informal victory wreath someone on the team had made found its way around my neck. The outpouring of adoration from the crowd, and the satisfaction of achievement I felt at that moment, will be etched in my memory forever. What an incredible experience my first Le Mans had been!

       Le Mans 24 Hours

       June 13, 1970    cont.

Total Recall by a2z

Tony steers and Chuck Parsons sits on the fender with champagne

                                               The evolution of the 312P to the 512 series

                                                               Driver's Impressions


                                                                 Tony Adamowicz

    The evolution of the 312P into the 512 series took a lot of thought by the Ferrari factory to design a noble successor to the 312P. 

    The 312P had a very strong chassis with an upright F1 3 liter engine.  Truly a well-balanced machine shelved because of the advent of the 5 liter program introduced by the FIA for The World Manufacturer's Championship.  This was to be the Ultimate Battle of the Titans between Ferrari and Porsche.

    I first saw the 512 long tail version at the 1970 Le Mans.  NART had one for Sam Posey and Ronnie Bucknum.  The factory had theirs as well, but all was not well with the driver's impressions of the car, mainly severe high speed instability and braking approaching the Mulsanne corner.

    I too had my problems in the 312P that I shared with Chuck Parsons.  NART opted to sell the car I co-drove with David Piper at Daytona and with Luigi Chinetti, Jr. at Sebring; to a French buyer.  Pierre Bardinon I believe.  What we had to work with at Le Mans was the bubble roofed car that was designed for Mike Parkes tall torso.  I would have preferred the normal roofline for esthetics and overall reduced frontal area for the fast straights at Le Mans.  Neither Chuck nor myself needed the extra clearance of the bubble but removing it was out of the question.  This was the first time I drove this 312P and the bump steer was diabolical.  It took some convincing to have NART check the alignment, including having Goodyear officials approaching Mr. Chinetti, explaining the problem.  Reluctantly the alignment was done and the car regained it's normal beautifully handling characteristics.

    Compared to the 512s we were considerably slower on the straight, with a good tow I managed to reach about 210 mph, compared to the 220-225 mph by the 5 liter cars.  We would concentrate on  a class win, while the 5 liters would have to deal with the overall position.  We knew we would have an edge on fuel economy and with the projected rain weather forecast, we could be contenders for a top tenth place.  Talking to both drivers of the 512, I came to the conclusion that they suffered much instability with their car because of improper alignment.  Once that was taken care of, the transition of the NART 512 S Long tail was bearable, but not pleasant to drive in the dry weather or the rain.

     Webmaster's note:  Unpleasant indeed!  Three years later, Sam Posey did a lot of test driving for AAR's new F-5000 Eagle.  As a young designer for Gurney, I drove to Willow Springs once with Sam, and was enthralled by his vivid account of driving the long-tailed #11  512 Ferrari at the 1970 Le Mans race.  He said at night in the rain and fog, he could only drive about 100 mph on the Mulsanne straight before the car would wander all over the track.  Of course, he was in everyone's way at that speed, so was certain to get rear-ended.  He gritted his teeth, increased speed incrementally, and found it didn't get any worse as he upped the speed about 10 mph each lap.

Wicked Rain in 1970    The long tailed NART 512 of Posey/Bucknum

     Eventually he found himself going flat out, but the car continued to feel like it was going to kill him at every moment.  In fact, it was spinning the tires over the tops of the undulations.  At night.  In the rain.  In the fog.  At 225 mph.  He said he literally resigned himself to the fact that he would not live through the night.  Yet he and co-driver Ronnie Bucknum finished 4th overall.  Sometimes angels work overtime....

     Long tailed cars have less aero drag, so were fielded to take advantage of the 3-mile Mulsanne strait.  The emphasis was on low drag, so these cars had minimal downforce hence less traction.

     They also lacked the aero drag at the rear - that helped stabilize all the other cars.  In effect, they lacked the stabilizing drogue chute effect that comes from any source of rear downforce.

     Finally, their aerodynamic center of pressure was far aft of the CG, so they weathervaned in crosswinds.  Basically, in the interest of top speed, they were aerodynamically unsound.

Posey pits in NART's long-tailed 512M

2.1 MB mp3 Sound File.  Turn volume up  and listen to the sounds of a full lap from inside the Ferrari.  At top speed, the wind noise actually becomes audible!

When finished, hit "Back" button

Tony Adamowicz, Gary Wheeler, Tony a2z, Tony Adamowics, a2zRacer, Gary Wheeler, Tony Adamowicz







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Interestingly, Tony would drive this same #11 car (but with a conventional short tail) to an outright victory

in Ecuador in 1971.  That turned out to be the only first place finish ever enjoyed by any Ferrari 512M or S.